Home Civil Liberty Come Along Now Guardian, This Is Just The Usual Suspects

Come Along Now Guardian, This Is Just The Usual Suspects

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Complete horrors and terrors face us as companies and corporations start to sue governments. The problem is, you see, that there’s this investor state dispute system that allows companies – the goddam capitalists – to sue government if they’ve been screwed over. This would never do of course for the point and purpose of government is to screw over the capitalists. Thus how can we allow any legal system to prevent this?

This is dressed up a little in this Guardian piece but this is what the actual complaint is:

Governments around the world – including the UK – face a wave of lawsuits from foreign companies who complain that their profits have been hit by the pandemic.

Webinars and presentations shared with clients reveal that leading global law firms anticipate governments around the world will soon face claims over their response to the Covid-19 crisis. The actions are being brought under investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses which are embedded in trade and investment agreements and allow foreign investors and firms to sue other countries’ governments.

The claims are heard in highly secretive ad hoc tribunals before a panel of three judges. Often it is not apparent that a case is being brought until the panel sits.

There’s more than a little bullshit in that. For example, the government being sued gets to appoint one of the three arbitrators – not judges – so they’ll clearly know before the panel sits. It’s also not true that you get to sue in such an arbitration court just because your profits have been hit. You’ve got to show that government has broken either a contract or the law in hitting your profits. It’s all rather more sensible than the campaigners claim.

But then look at the people doing the complaining:

More than 600 civil society groups in 90 countries have written an open letter sounding the alarm. Signatories include Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), SumOfUs and Global Justice Now. They warn at a “time when government resources are stretched to the limit in responding to the crisis, public money should not be diverted from saving lives, jobs and livelihoods into paying ISDS awards or legal fees to fight a claim”.

And they predict that a spate of cases now could result in a “regulatory chilling effect, in which governments water down, postpone or withdraw actions to tackle the pandemic for fear they will be sued”.

That’s just the usual suspects making their usual complaint. ISDS puts a limit on governments’ arbitrary use of power. They don’t think there should be such limits therefore they complain.

An accurate report on this would run “Statists complain about the law protecting us from the government. Film at 11.” But then that would replace just so many stories, wouldn’t it?

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